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Champions League football will help the Portuguese attract even more top talent to the club, in the view of the former striker

Jose Mourinho will be able to attract huge players to Manchester United in the transfer market, says the club's former striker Dwight Yorke.

Yorke believes United's financial might, along with their return to the Champions League, puts them in an excellent position for this close-season.

United recruited stars like Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic without Champions League football last season, and the member of the club's 1999 treble-winning team cannot wait to see who Mourinho can land with a place in Europe's top club competition adding to the club's appeal.

"United obviously are looking to add to the squad," Yorke said to Sky Sports. "We know that, that is not a secret.

"I think that Man United being the richest club in the world and in the Champions League as well, things are looking up.

"Winning two major competitions this season helps us, being in the Champions League this season also helps us and puts us back in the forefront of things.

"We are one of the richest, if not the richest club in the world right now, so we can attract all the players.

"Mourinho has been able to do that without the Champions League. Now that we are in the Champions League, I think that we are in a position to strike."

Victor Lindelof has been signed from Benfica in United's only addition ahead of the 2017-18 campaign so far, but Yorke is optimistic that number will swell by another three or four before the transfer window closes.

And he stressed it is quality that is most important as United bid to win the Premier League for the first time since Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013.

Yorke said: "It is all about the quality that is brought in. I'm sure that Jose has got his targets like every other manager.

"I believe that come the start of the season we will get three or four quality players in to make sure we are competitive enough and raring to try and win the Premier League this season."

A host of star names are being linked with moves to United, Real Madrid trio Cristiano Ronaldo, Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez, Inter winger Ivan Perisic, Tottenham's Eric Dier, Monaco's Fabinho and Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic.

Things might have turned out very differently for Barca and their star had one agent made a move to the Spanish capital years ago

Imagine how different things could have been.

If Horacio Gaggioli had not moved to Barcelona, Lionel Messi could have been playing for bitter rivals and La Liga champions Real Madrid, rather than putting together one of the best careers of all time with the Blaugrana.

Barca's all-time leading goalscorer Messi arrived at Camp Nou as a 13-year-old from Rosario, thanks to the help of fellow Argentinian and agent Gaggioli.

Gaggioli was involved in Messi's relocation to Spain to join Barca and the former Newell's Old Boys youngster has gone to reach the greatest heights any player can reach on the club level, having won five Ballon d'Or, eight La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns among other trophies with the Catalan giants.

However, Messi – celebrating his 30th birthday on Saturday – could have signed for Madrid as a teenager if Gaggioli had moved to the Spanish capital instead.

"Due to life circumstances, I went to live in Barcelona and I brought him to Barca for a trial. But I was about to live in Madrid," Gaggioli told Globoesporte .

"If that had happened, I would have taken him to Madrid for a trial. That's life, those are the details.

"Today, Messi could have been a Real Madrid player, of course. The family wanted to come to Spain, to the city where I was to have some support."

The revelation leaves plenty to the imagination, like the possibility of Messi playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale rather than Neymar and Luis Suarez, but history will show that the decision to join Barcelona worked out for the Argentina ace.

Gaggioli also says that he had doubts about Messi when they first met, but that his fears were quickly put to bed by the prodigious talent.

"When I saw him at the airport, I thought that boy could not be a footballer, because he was too small and skinny," he said.

"I did not have a good impression. But when I saw him training in the Barca fields, I realised that he was a great player, who could play without a doubt."

Huddersfield have announced the signing of Belgium striker Laurent Depoitre from Porto for a club-record fee, believed to be £8.5million.

The newly-promoted side made their first signing since clinching promotion to the Premier League, with the 28-year-old joining for an undisclosed fee.

Depoitre, a Belgium international, is recognised as a physically-imposing striker and has signed a two-year deal to join the Terriers after making just 10 appearances since joining Porto at the start of last season.

Head coach David Wagner told the club’s official website: “He is a proper striker; one who has played for a very good Belgium side, featured in elite European competition and who has won domestic titles.

“It is great news that we have had the opportunity to sign a player of his quality and now we will focus on getting him back to the top form he showed only a season ago.

“He scores goals and is a real worker too, so he will fit the ‘Terriers Identity’ very well. His attitude on the pitch is exactly what we need, plus he is a very good character off the field too.”

Mauricio Pellegrino has been appointed as the new Southampton manager on a three-year deal.

Despite guiding Saints to eighth in the Premier League and the EFL Cup final in his first season, frustrations behind the scenes and in the stands led to Claude Puel’s sacking last week.

Southampton have acted quickly to name his successor, with former Alaves boss Pellegrino penning a contract at St Mary’s.

“I am really happy to become the new coach of Southampton Football Club,” Pellegrino said.

“The club has a great reputation for having a strong and stable structure, competing in the Premier League and playing attractive football.

“I think my philosophy and the culture of the club will work well together. We have to be a team on and off the pitch; I want to make the supporters proud of the players and to feel part of the game every week.

“I want to win matches, be successful and develop a team spirit where everyone gives 100 per cent and supports each other.

“I am excited and passionate about what the future holds for us and look forward to meeting the players and beginning our preparation for the new season.”

Pellegrino becomes Southampton’s second Argentinian manager, with Mauricio Pochettino previously at the helm.

The 45-year-old, a former international defender, will officially join up with the club next week, in time for the start of pre-season training.

Park Ji-sung may have hung up his boots but his work ethic remains, with the Manchester United fans’ favourite now determined to take his first steps into the world of sports management.

The dynamic midfielder ingratiated himself to the Old Trafford faithful during seven successful years at the club, winning four Premier League titles, the Champions League and a Club World Cup.

Park left United in 2012 and, two years later, persistent knee problems forced him to retire at the age of 33, turning the South Korea international’s focus to life away from the field.

Not keen to coach, the 36-year-old took a different route and is now just weeks away from finishing an International MA in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport, run by the Swiss Centre International d’Etude du Sport.

“After I retired, I am thinking ‘what should I do?'” Park said.

“I want to still be involved in football, but I don’t want to be a coach or manager, so then there’s the sports management side.

“I decided to be on the management side but then I had to think ‘what shall I do, what shall I learn?’

“I realised that I need to study what kind of things are happening around the sport or in football. I’ve enjoyed it.

“It is hard to study again but I learned a lot of things through this course.”

The year-long course started at De Montfort University in Leicester before going on to Milan and ending at the University of Neuchatel, where Park is now completing his last module.

The former QPR player has been studying for a future he wants to spend behind the scenes like former United team-mate Edwin van der Sar, who has risen to become chief executive at Ajax.

“That kind of path,” Park said of Van der Sar, who he won the Champions League alongside in 2008. “I spoke with Edwin and he advised me something as well. It’s quite the same scenario as Edwin.”

Park, a club ambassador at United, is keen to take a similar route, but has not picked up the phone to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward to enquire about opportunities at Old Trafford.

“No, not yet,” he said with a laugh. “But actually I want to have more experience in Europe because still the system, organisation-wise, Europe is better. I want to have some experience here.

“One day probably I will go back to my country or Asia to use my skills and to try and develop our football generally in Asia.

“But after this course, I want to stay in Europe to learn more things here, to improve myself, to develop myself in the future.”

Before Park’s studies finish in mid-July comes the small matter of lining up at the Nou Camp.

The former PSV Eindhoven star will play for Manchester United Legends against their Barcelona counterparts on June 30, before going toe-to-toe again at Old Trafford on September 2.

All money raised from the second leg will help the Manchester United Foundation’s work in the local community, with previous matches against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich raising more than £1.8million.

“The Camp Nou is a great stadium and it will be good to go there and play again against Barcelona with a Man United shirt,” Park said, before joking that fans should not expect to see him running around as much as before.

“It will be fun, enjoyable. Everyone is retired, it’s more relaxed, so it is more enjoyable from the fans as well.

“Man United had the 2013 and 2015 legends match against great clubs like Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

“It helps raise important money to help children so hopefully we can raise a lot of money to help them.

“I am really happy to be one of those players raising money and, from a player’s side, it will be fun to see old team-mates and play the legends players.”

Mike Ashley offloads shares in Rangers

Published in England Premier League
Saturday, 24 June 2017 10:43

Mike Ashley has sold his shareholding in Rangers and the largest Light Blues supporter group has snapped up half of his Ibrox stake.

The news comes just two days after Rangers chairman Dave King brokered a peace pact with the Sports Direct chief that provides the Ibrox club with a new £5million-a-year retail deal.

Ashley’s firm MASH Holdings Limited bought an 8.9 per cent stake in Rangers International Football Club Ltd (RIFC) when the company was floated by former chief executive Charles Green in 2012.

But he has now sold a 4.46 per cent tranche to fan group Club 1872, with the rest bought by Julian Wolhardt, chief operating officer of Hong Kong-based Dehong Capital Partners.

Club 1872 – formed last year by a merger of supporter groups – becomes the club’s second biggest shareholder by taking its stake to 10.71 per cent.

The news has been welcomed by fans, who feared the dispute fought out by King and billionaire Newcastle owner Ashley in the courtroom would hamper the club’s ability to take on Celtic for years to come.

A spokesperson for Club 1872 said: “We are delighted that our members’ support for Club 1872 has brought us to a point where we can acquire those shares and complete the process of restoring control of RIFC to those who view the footballing success of Rangers FC as being just as important as RIFC’s careful stewardship financially.

“Club 1872 allows Rangers supporters to help safeguard the future of our club. Taking our shareholding above 10 per cent puts us well on our way to that goal. Our next ambition is to reach out to those Rangers supporters who are not already members of Club 1872 and encourage them to join.

“Together we can achieve great things for our club.”

Wolhardt – who was married in Scotland and previously worked for Asian Investment firm KKR when it bought a large stake in German outfit Hertha Berlin – added: “I am delighted to become an RIFC shareholder. I have a long held love for Scotland and football and I am keen to see Rangers FC unlock its considerable commercial potential.

“With the successful restructuring of the retail operations, RIFC is now on a firm financial footing and I look forward to being a part of its exciting future.”

Former Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood has told John Terry he will not be going to a smaller club if he heads for Villa Park.

Villa is one of several possible destinations for the vastly-experienced and much-decorated defender as he contemplates life after Stamford Bridge.

Speculation has been mounting about Terry joining Villa after he was pictured playing golf with manager Steve Bruce.

One of Bruce’s predecessors, Sherwood told Sky Sports HQ: “I think both would be married up very well.

“John’s an excellent professional, not only in what he will bring on the pitch, but what he will bring to the dressing room.

“He will make other players around him better. They need some leaders there and certainly there are no bigger leaders than John Terry.

“Every club needs those characters, certainly a huge cub like Aston Villa with the fan base that they’ve got. Certainly John won’t feel like he’s going to a smaller club.”

Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City will improve next season following the disappointment of a trophy-less first year in English football.

Expectations of silverware were high after Guardiola, who had enjoyed huge success at previous clubs Barcelona and Bayern Munich, replaced Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad Stadium last summer.

However, his side failed to mount a Premier League title bid and eventually finished third, while they also came up short in both domestic cup competitions and the Champions League.

City are scheduled to kick-off the upcoming campaign at newly-promoted Brighton on August 12 and Guardiola is confident his side can make progress.

“We will be better, like Everton will be better,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.

“The teams every year do better than the year before – we’ll be better next season.”

City have already begun rebuilding their squad, bringing in Benfica goalkeeper Ederson and Monaco attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva for a total of around £76million.

Guardiola says he is happy in his job and relishing the start of the new season.

“I enjoy a lot (managing City), I said many times,” he added.

“Always when you win you are a god and it’s good but during the process, 11 months together, you can enjoy being with your staff and your players and imagining new games, new actions.

“But the opponents always play and play good, sometimes you can beat us but the beautiful thing is the process.

“I was so happy last season in Manchester, being manager there and that’s why I’m so delighted to start again.”

Everton eyeing move for Burnley forward

Published in Football Transfers
Saturday, 24 June 2017 10:30

Everton are interested in bringing Burnley striker Andre Gray to Goodison Park this summer, claims a report.

Gray, 25, moved to Burnley two years ago and scored nine goals and provided three assists in his debut Premier League season last time around.

He has one year left on his contract at Turf Moor, and The Mirror understands that Everton made an approach for the striker towards the end of last season.

Toffees boss Ronald Koeman will need new recruits if they are to sell Romelu Lukaku, who has been repeatedly linked with a move away over recent times.

They are set to sign Malaga’s Spanish striker Sandro Ramirez, and are also keen on Bournemouth’s Norwegian front man Josh King, who impressed last season as he scored 16 Premier League goals for the Cherries.

It is understood that Gray is not interested in signing a new contract and is prepared leave the club for free next summer.

Everton could also return to Turf Moor for defender Micheal Keane, who was a top performer as the Clarets avoided the drop and is reportedly still interesting former club Manchester United.

Triple header on 2018 F1 calendar

Published in Formula 1
Wednesday, 21 June 2017 12:05

A 21-race calendar for the 2018 F1 season has been revealed, with the sport's first triple header the standout change.

As previously announced, the F1 schedule reverts to a joint-record 21 races next year with France and Germany returning while Malaysia drops out.

The dates and order of the events have now been confirmed, with the return of France at Paul Ricard on June 24 the first of what is scheduled to be three grands prix in as many weekends - an F1 first.

After the French GP on the final weekend of June, the sport will head straight to the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian GP on July 1 before then going to Silverstone for the British GP on July 8.

In total, between June 24 and July 22, there will be five grands prix in six weekends ahead of the usual August summer break.

The order of the races is largely the same as this year, with a couple of notable changes.

The Azerbaijan GP in Baku will take place two months earlier on April 29, while the Russian GP in Sochi has been moved back to a late September slot after hosting this year's fourth round.

Both the Singapore and Chinese GPs remain subject to confirmation pending new hosting contracts.

The season will begin in Australia on March 25, the same weekend as this year, and end in Abu Dhabi on November 25.

France is returning to the calendar for the first time in a decade, with Paul Ricard's own absence dating back over 25 years.

Germany, another of F1's most historic grands prix, has remained a more consistent presence on the calendar but has appeared only once every other year since 2015 at Hockenheim after the collapse of the circuit's race-share agreement with the Nurburgring.

While next year's 21 races will match the record set in 2016, Liberty Media, F1's new owners, are thought to be keen to increase the calendar to around 25 events towards the next decade with a focus on "destination cities" such as New York and Las Vegas.

African Football

Football Transfers

Everton eyeing move for Burnley forward

Everton eyeing move for Burnley forward

Everton are interested in bringing Burnley striker Andre Gray to Goodison Park this summer, claims a...

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